Category Archives: Technology

Review, “Transformation, The Heart of Paul’s Gospel” @logos @lexhampress

Have we missed St. Paul’s message… the proverbial forest for the trees?

During the debate between New Perspective, Old Perspective, and everything else about Paul’s intellectual origin, what may get lost is Paul’s goal of the Gospel. In a new book, the first in a series edited by renowned Pauline Third-Way scholar, Michael F. Bird, David A. deSilva proposes that at the center of Paul’s message is one simple concept: transformation.

The goal of Transformation: The Heart of Paul’s Gospel is simple: “to propose a way of thinking about Paul’s gospel — a vision for what God is seeking to bring about through the death and resurrection of his Son, the indwelling of his Spirit, and his future intervention in cosmic affairs.” (pg 5) While deSilva writes with an evangelical perspective in mind, his reach extends to others as well, especially with the centerpiece of his tripodic proposal. Indeed, the indwelling of the Spirit is what makes up the idea of transformation.

The book is divided into four chapters. The first chapter is deSilva’s case for a “broader understanding of Paul’s Gospel of Transformation.” He is hesitant about assigning too wide a gulf between justification and sanctification. He points to several Christian traditions that highlight one over the other. He posits that Paul would be troubled at the separation and a creation of “an order of salvation.” Indeed, I think we should be too. He argues five points against such a false separation (pg 10), all of which sound Wesleyan (if I may be so biased). Indeed, deSilva suggests an ongoing justification, from the initial acquittal to the “final justification.” For Wesleyans, we see this act as the journey of grace, albeit with three stages of grace (prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying). Regardless of my bias, the thesis is simple: There is no momentary act of salvation, but an ongoing changing of the person into the new creation, and thus, transformation. For the rest of chapter 1, deSilva lays out well the reasons why his five points are sound, calling on Scripture and Reason (scholarship) to aid him. He explores the “why” of transformation (i.e., God shows no partiality) and delves into the debate of what justification actually means.

Paul-iconChapter 2 turns to explore what transformation means to the individual and to the individual’s freedom within Christ. He begins, again, but setting the initial act of justification within the framework of the entire Christian journey. Paul simply does not spend a lot of time detailing this theological point, but rather spends a majority of his time instructing the Church what this means and how this looks (how transformation looks) in the body (and the body made up of individuals).

In chapter 3, deSilva explores the community’s transformation as individuals who are opposed to one another in life become conformed to a unified body. Yes, reconciliation is a part of the transformation which is the heart of Paul’s message (at least according to deSilva). So is ecumenicalism, it seems. I dare say, this chapter is important to the overall concept of Christian unity. This chapter speaks to me as one who believes heavily in John 17 as a mission for today’s Christian. The final chapter is deSilva’s answer to contemporary eschatological enterprises and, I think, empire criticism. It is a rewarding chapter, but one that is best not explained in a review.

I was apprehensive about this book. When I begin an introduction of a book on Paul’s message by exploring the Roman Road(s), I am easily turned off of the subject matter. However, I am glad my first, brief, and uninformed opinions were wrong. There is no hero worship of Paul, NT Wright, or Luther, only a straightforward and enticing examination of the heart of Paul’s message. The more I read, the more I enjoyed it. The more I read, the more I learned. The more I read, the more my opinion of Paul and post-Reformation views on Justification were…well, transformed.

I cannot help but to read books on justification and sanctification as a Wesleyan — and as one attempting to, occasionally, write a dissertation on the atonement mechanism in Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. I see a lot of my views of Wesley’s views in this book, and not least because deSilva quotes the 39 Articles and refers to Wesley several times. I think I see a connection between Wesley and this book because of what I perceive as the ongoing work of Grace in the life of the Christian, which deSilva assures us is the heart of Paul’s message. I would encourage all Wesleyans (and Arminians) to pick up a copy of this book as a way to build their own personal theology. I would equally suggest all others read this book to understand better what other Christians feel about the journey of grace, but grounded only in Paul’s writings. Finally, those of us interested in Christian unity should at the very least read chapter 1 and chapter 4, first to understand the heart of Paul’s mission and second to understand how this applies to us today as we try to build Christian unity.

This book is available in several different formats from Amazon, Logos, and Lexham Press.

Review, @AccordanceBible 11 (and Original Languages Collection)

NA28 on Accordance

Introduction

Preachers and students of the bible once made tedious use of concordances, church libraries, and multi-volume editions of well worded reference sets as they slowly prepared sermons, researched topics, and wrote their own books. It was almost impossible to own everything a real student of Scripture needed. It was more than impossible to have your library with you, wherever you went. With the introduction to the information age, the bible and bible study has taken a new form. Rather than heavy books, stacked library shelves, and hidden resources wasting many hours that could be devoted to actual research, the computer promised new ways to insure bible study was quick and relatively painless. After all, digital pages rarely leave students with papercuts.

Let me give you some technical details before I proceed. I run Accordance 11 on my (late 2012) Mac, with 8Gb of ram. I have several current bible study software programs, but this post will try to avoid comparisons. I run the Accordance iOS app via my iPad 3 and iPhone 5c. I have spent considerable time learning and testing Accordance 11, which was given to me free of charge for an honest review.

Features:

Smoothness:

Straight out of the box it downloaded and installed quick, easy, and without pain to my Mac. Rather than the titles needing to be indexed, each title is pre-indexed — meaning there is no lag time in using a freshly purchased, or updated, module. Indeed, Accordance beats nearly every program I have in operation speed, agility, and resource management. Those are big words for “It fits like a glove” with my Mac. This is extremely important for me, because it means my Mac and I will be able to use Accordance 11 for sometime without having to worry about excess loads causing damage to my machine. Start-up, close-down, and moment to moment operation happens without crashes, glitches, or lags. Even native Apple apps sometimes do not meet this goal.

Software Updates

Like any software program, updates are required. Accordance updates are the easiest of all of the bible programs I own. I am not sure of what happens behind the scenes, but if there is an update, it tells me when I open up the program. The downloads are quick. The installation is even faster. Once they are installed, there is nothing else to do. Simply, there is no requirement of the program to index the new updates. There is no load placed on your machine.

Internal Features

I’m not going to review every feature of Accordance 11, but highlight those that matter to me. You can find the full list here.

One of the features I really like is the way you can categorize your resources. This comes in handy when, say, I want to organize my Greek sources or, in the future, my Wesleyan resources. If I want to create a category removing all devotional material, without removing them from my library, I can do that so that I no longer have to worry about having them searched. I can create a category, say for Wesleyan modules/tools, and search only that category. I can, perhaps, discover that Outler improperly named the third leg “Experience” when he should have named it “Assurance.”

Speaking of searches, Accordance 11 has 2 types of search available to us. The first is flex. It allows you to take a shot in the dark. It is like google, but for the bible. What I mean is this: you ever think you know what you want to search for, but do not know how it is phrased? Sometimes, searches require you to make an accurate guess. I rarely ever get this to work for me because I am always hearing things differently. I mean, if you read Scripture in a variety of translations, you will eventually mesh this together. Flex search prevents that and allows you to look for close connections to what you are searching. It also changes numbers and senses so you aren’t stuck with “search for plane” (when you mean “search on the planes”).

The second type is the exact search. When they say fast, they mean fast. Granted, my library is (for now) small, but the search feature seems almost instantaneous. Added to this, you can modify the exact search to look for tags, syntax, and other varieties. This is not the flex search, as it is really geared to the original languages.

A related feature is the topic search. Thank of Nave’s, but better and faster. A lot faster. Sort of like a highway in Montana. You type in a topic — say, baptism. You will get verses associated with baptism (ranging from dipping to baptism). If there isn’t a topic exactly like you want, there are usually others provided that come close to it. Accordance bills this as perfect for topical preachers. That’s fair, but it is also helpful for students who want to follow a thought around Scripture while working on their dissertation. This feature is actually new in Accordance 11.

A new feature, important for several reasons, is the Research Tool (formerly Search All). The first reason is because it allows you to maximize your library. Second, it shows you just how fast Accordance 11 is (albeit, this may not be your primary reason for using this tool, much like buying a Corvette is not simply because the leather seats look cool). I searched several words (sex, suicide, Jesus) and quicker than I’ve just typed this sentence, I had my entire library combed through, with the results presented to me in prompt fashion. Again, the speed in which this happened is astounding.

This is what it looks like:

Accordance 11 Research toolThe Research Tool makes something like journals beneficial, efficient, and usable. You can see the results, scrolling through them, almost immediately. This is greatly helpful in cutting down the time wasted in exploring every resource individually to find what you want.

Original Languages Collection

The Original Languages Collection is designed to provide a better-than-entry level package enabling novices, students, and seasoned learners the ability to learn, relearn, and maintain the ability to study Scripture in its original languages.

A huge draw for me here is the New English Translation of the Septuagint (which only a few of the bigger bible software systems have available). Unlike other programs, the NETS is divided into two different modules (sold together), allowing the user to focus either on the introductory material or the text of the Septuagint itself. The introductory material is important to the NETS and to the study of the LXX.

Other modules include the basic English translations such as the King James, the English Standard Version, and the New English Translation. Like the NETS mentioned above, the NET includes copious notes, highly prized among textual studies students. Added to this are commentaries such as the IVP New Bible Commentary and the Eerdmans Dictionary. Included as well are German, Italian, and Spanish bibles.

But, that’s not really the goal of the Original Languages Collection. While the focus seems to be on the Greek side of Scripture,  the collection includes several Hebrew modules as well:

HMT-W4
BHS Guide
BHS Latin Key
BDB
Concise DCH
Jenni-Westermann
Hebrew Strong’s
KM Hebrew Dictionary
Waltke Hebrew

Not only are several modules directed to the LXX in the original Greek but there are numerous modules aimed at the Greek New Testament, including lexicons, dictionaries, and critical texts. One of my favorites is the Louw and Nida Semantic Domains set.

Also include are resources aimed at bringing all parts of Scripture together, such as Gospels parallels and a tool designed to show how the NT uses the OT.

The entire package is $299.00 before any applicable discounts (if there are any) with the print value topping $2000.00. Not only is the cost nice, especially for students, but so is not having to use the space these books in print would occupy. Added to these factors, the tools included herein come in quite handy if you are going to engage in serious study of Scripture in its original languages, not to mention how Scripture uses and reuses itself (or, perhaps, how one author would reuse another author).

Discounts

There are numerous types of discounts available to the purchaser. You can find them and the process here. My only issue with the discounts program is that the price, once the discount is approved, is does not show up on the product page. The discounted price is available only in the cart. This is more of a convenience thing, really. There are also payment plans available.

Conclusion

Accordance 11 gives me, in an affordable way, the ability to have my library at my fingertips. While it is expansive, it does not overload my Mac. Rather, it acts very much like a native Apple app (if not better in many instances). I cannot express this enough, really. The speed, efficiency, and resource management Accordance 11 offers is, by far, the best in the business. Added to this is a non-taxing learning curve, Accordance 11 is ideal for anyone seeking to engage Scripture and biblical studies in the 21st century while building a library that is expansive, manageable, and always present.

a plug for Dr. @Steve_Runge’s resources on @Logos

Logos has a lot of Runge’s works on Sale:

Dr. Steve Runge wants to help everyone grasp the intricacies of biblical text, whether they know the original languages or not. To that end, he’s spent years studying discourse analysis and presenting his findings in ways that anyone can understand.

Filled with custom-designed slides and helpful illustrations, his High Definition Commentaries examine the linguistic and literary clues in the text, highlighting what you need to know. Each commentary follows the flow of a biblical book, presenting the big ideas of each passage and applying Dr. Runge’s linguistic and exegetical expertise to guide your study.

via Save on the Latest Resources from Dr. Steven Runge | LogosTalk.

I have several of them and highly recommend them. His newest commentary strikes significant blow to reading Romans as a singular voice of St. Paul — and not just because I’m mentioned in the book. Indeed, the High-Def NT is a must have.

So, if you are able, check them out, and pre-order the newest work on James. I promise you, nothing by Runge is made of straw.

Top 10 things to give up during Lent

What am I giving up for Lent? Click here!

  1. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  2. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  3. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  4. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  5. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  6. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  7. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  8. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  9. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus
  10. Jim West – Zwinglius Redivivus

 

Book Notice: “Transformation: The Heart of Paul’s Gospel” @logos

Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul (by Rembrandt)
Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul (by Rembrandt) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw this on Pre-Pub and I got it. Now that it is out, the price is a bit more, but it is worth it. I intend to review it in the coming weeks. Just wanted to highlight it for you.

From Logos:

The Apostle Paul found the gospel message so compelling that he became a rootless wanderer and endured hardships and deprivation to spread this good news throughout the Roman Empire. What was the “gift of righteousness” that Paul was so eager to share? David deSilva argues that it was far richer than the “get out of hell free” pass that some Christians have unintentionally reduced it to today.

In Transformation: The Heart of Paul’s Gospel, deSilva guides readers in expanding their definition of the gospel message as presented in Paul’s letters. He succinctly demonstrates that the gift of righteousness that Paul speaks of in Romans is nothing less than the means to transform and renew all of creation—including ourselves. Join deSilva as he explores Paul’s message of change and renewal, and prepare to be transformed in your own thinking in the process.

The Snapshots series, edited by renowned scholar Michael Bird, engages significant issues in contemporary biblical scholarship, making them accessible to busy students of the Word and applicable in the life of the church.